August 2020 OwlCrate Unboxing

August…the final days of summer! A slow year, yet the days flew by!

Today I realized that I almost forgot to post my August OwlCrate unboxing. I’m very excited to show everyone what I received!

Theme: Written In the Stars

Spoilers Ahead!

August OwlCrate: Star shaped bottle with push pins.
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Star shaped bottle with push pins. A Team OwlCrate exclusive!


Strange the Dreamer bandana, designed by Fern and Ink. File name: wp-15989222842625028983889271609700.jpg

Strange the Dreamer inspired bandana, designed by Fern and Ink


The Starless Sea inspired booksleeve, designed by Quirky Cup Collective. File name: wp-15989222846777413968056097040950.jpg

The Starless Sea inspired book sleeve, designed by Quirky Cup Collective


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Aurora Rising inspired clipboard, designed by Daphna Sebbane
Team OwlCrate metal star pen


August OwlCrate Enamel Pin, designed by Band of Weirdos. File name: wp-15989223739229207472439778715875.jpg

Monthly enamel pin, designed by Band of Weirdos



Star Daughter by Sheveta Thakrar, with sprayed purple edges!

(Synopsis from Goodreads) The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be “normal.” But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star’s help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago.

Sheetal’s quest to save her father takes her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows. She must take the stage as her family’s champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens–and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all.

This gorgeously imagined YA debut blends shades of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and a breathtaking landscape of Hindu mythology into a radiant contemporary fantasy.

Entire August OwlCrate box. File name: wp-15989224433306838297573311093070.jpg

OwlCrate offers wonderful items!

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Book Blogger Hop | August 10

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer, in which you answer a book related prompt. The Book Blogger Hop, helps you discover fellow contributors to check out and follow! You can view Coffee Addicted Writer’s post here.

This Week’s Question

Do you read books by diverse authors or books with diverse characters (such as LGBT, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, etc)? If yes, do you have any book recommendations? (submitted by Kristin @ Lukten av Trykksverte)

My book recommendations:

LGBT:

Crier’s War by Nina Varela

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Religion\Faith:

Something Dark & Holy series by Emily A. Duncan

Latinx Representation

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Lobizona by Romina Garber

Black Representation

A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

Minion by L.A. Banks

What are your favorite stories by diverse authors? Are there other stories you would like to add to this list? Feel free to share!

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Manic Monday: What I’m Reading | Aug 3

Happy Monday everyone! I’m taking part in Manic Monday, a weekly meme hosted by Bianca @ Always Bring Books.


Animated gif of a amiling coffee cup, with the word 'Monday' written on top. Link: https://i2.wp.com/media.giphy.com/media/xUNd9PPt42S2BA4RtC/giphy.gif?resize=326%2C326&ssl=1

I hope everyone’s week is starting well. My Monday morning consisted of me baking Zucchini Bread. I’m really putting my baking skills to use during these ‘Indoor Days’!

A loaf of zucchini bread, in a metal tin. Sitting one a wooded table.
Manic Monday
Purple Leaf
Link: PurpleLeaf.jpg

Manic Monday: What I’m Reading

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Alone Together: Love, Grief and Comfort In the Time of COVID-19 by Jennifer Haupt
ALONE TOGETHER: Love, Grief, and Comfort During the Time of COVID-19 is a collection of essays, poems, and interviews to serve as a lifeline for negotiating how to connect and thrive during this stressful time of isolation as well as a historical perspective that will remain relevant for years to come. All contributing authors and business partners are donating their share to The Book Industry Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit organization that coordinates charitable programs to strengthen the bookselling community.

The roster of diverse voices includes Faith Adiele, Kwame Alexander, Jenna Blum, Andre Dubus III, Jamie Ford, Nikki Giovanni, Pam Houston, Jean Kwok, Major Jackson, Devi S. Laskar, Caroline Leavitt, Ada Limón, Dani Shapiro, David Sheff, Garth Stein, Luis Alberto Urrea, Steve Yarbrough, and Lidia Yuknavitch.

ALONE TOGETHER is divided into five sections: What Now?, Grieve, Comfort, Connect, And Don’t Stop. The overarching theme is how this age of isolation and uncertainty is changing us as individuals and a society.

I received Alone Together through NetGalley and Central Avenue Publishing. This anthology addresses the Covid-19 pandemic through many voices in the artistic world.

What are you reading today?


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Book Review | The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva

The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva.
Link: https://i1.wp.com/i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1578508930l/50068110._SY475_.jpg?w=620&ssl=1

The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva
Publisher: Self Published
Length: 283 pages
Source: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
Release Date: August 2, 2019


Synopsis

Amy has a normal life. That is, if you were to go by a definition of ‘no immediate obvious indicators of peculiarity’, and you didn’t know her very well. She has good friends, a good job, a nice enough home. This normality, however, is precariously plastered on top of a different life. A life that is Amy’s real life. The only one her brain will let her lead.


My Thoughts

At the start of The Existence of Amy, you immediately know that you’re entering the world of someone enduring a deep struggle. We follow the story of Amy, a young woman suffering from the need to perform numerous routines for the sake of safety. Amy is aware that these tasks interfere with her daily life, hindering any chance of successful social interactions, yet she feels powerless to prevent them. There are several instances in the story where Amy struggles to overpower that internal voice in her head, yet it always wins out in the end, for the sake of safety.

I could feel Amy’s fight to overcome her condition, and her pain, as her negative feelings get the upper hand frequently. Amy’s depression is strong throughout the book, yet there are also valuable friendships there for her when she needs it most. These lifelines are very valuable for Amy, as her constant routines disrupt her daily way of life.

The Existence of Amy handles some intense topics (handling mental illness and extreme depression), but they are very important to stress how powerful Amy’s disorder controls her life. I recommend this book for those seeking to understand the impact of extreme depression.

Many thanks to the author for providing me a complimentary copy of this book!

Recommended for:

  • Readers searching for stories on Mental Health (OCD, Depression)
  • Stories with friends as valuable lifelines during struggle

CW: Depression, suicidal thoughts


Would you put The Existence of Amy in your TBR? Feel free to share in the comments!


Love and Light, Cathleen

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Goodreads Monday | July 13

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme started by Lauren’s Page Turners. You select a book listed on your Goodreads TBR and talk about it. Whether it’s a book photo or description (or both!), share why you love them! You can find Lauren’s Page Turners’ link here.


This Week’s Post

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

I ordered ‘The Vanishing Half’ through Book of the Month in June. I’ve heard many wonderful things about this story of sisters with divided lives. I can’t wait to get to this book!


Synopsis

From The New York Times -bestselling author of The Mothers , a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.


Are you excited to read The Vanishing Half? I know that I can’t wait to read this!


Love and Light, Cathleen

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A Journey Toward Hope by Victor Hinojosa & Coert Voorhees | Book Review

'A Journey Toward Hope' by Victor Hinojosa & Coert Voorhees. Illustrated by Susan Guevara
Link: https://i0.wp.com/i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1588357002l/52466756.jpg?w=620&ssl=1

A Journey Toward Hope by Victor Hinojosa & Coert Voorhees
Illustrated by Susan Guevara
Publisher: Six Foot Press
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Length: 40 pages
Source: eARC
Release Date: July 7, 2020


Synopsis

Every year, roughly 50,000 unaccompanied minors arrive at the US/Mexico border to present themselves for asylum or related visas. The majority of these children are non-Mexicans fleeing the systemic violence of Central America’s “Northern Triangle”: Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

A Journey Toward Hope tells the story of Rodrigo, a 14-year-old escaping Honduran violence; Alessandra, a 10-year-old Guatemalan whose first language is Q’eqchi’; and the Salvadoran siblings Laura and Nando. Though their reasons for making the journey are different and the journey northward is perilous, the four children band together, finding strength in one another as they share the dreams of their past and the hopes for their future. Written in collaboration with Baylor University’s’ Social Innovation Collaborative, A Journey Toward Hope is a celebration of their humanity and an ode to the power of hope and connection even in the face of uncertainty and fear.


My Thoughts

A Journey Toward Hope tells the story of four children migrating to North America. They leave everything behind (homes, loved ones) in order to live a more peaceful life. Through harrowing conditions and fear of the unknown, they travel to a life free from violence and danger. These four children rely on each other for emotional support as they embark of their life path. While they don’t know one another, they share in the struggle, and this ultimately unites them. This story is a fictional account, yet Hinojosa and Voorhees provide vivid details of the conditions migrant children experience while making their dangerous journey.

Since immigration is a hot topic in the Americas, A Journey Toward Hope provides many teachable moments. Educators can discuss this tale with students as a way to put faces to the crisis. In many instances, children are making the dangerous trip to peace on their own. As this book is written for children, it sets the stage at an age appropriate level for young students to understand.

A Journey Toward Hope is a wonderful story for children of all ages. I recommend this book for those searching to more information about immigration among families.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What are your thoughts about A Journey Toward Hope? Would you put this story on your TBR?



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Goodreads Monday | Jul 6

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme started by Lauren’s Page Turners. You select a book listed on your Goodreads TBR and talk about it. Whether it’s a book photo or description (or both!), share why you love them! You can find Lauren’s Page Turners’ link here.


This Week’s Post

Goodreads Monday post. 
'Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
Link: https://i1.wp.com/i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1536087897l/36595887._SY475_.jpg?w=620&ssl=1

Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

I purchased Sal & Gabi Breaks the Universe a couple weeks ago, and I’m soo excited! This is a middle grade story featuring Latinx main characters on an adventure!


Synopsis

How did a raw chicken get inside Yasmany’s locker?

When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn’t under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal’s office for the third time in three days, and it’s still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany’s locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared.

Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he’s capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken–including his dead mother–and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There’s only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk.

A sassy entropy sweeper, a documentary about wedgies, a principal who wears a Venetian bauta mask, and heaping platefuls of Cuban food are just some of the delights that await in this mind-blowing novel gift-wrapped in love and laughter.



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Book Blogger Hop: June 29

The Book Blogger Hop is a book meme hosted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer. Every week, you answer a book related prompt. Through Book Blogger Hop, you discover fellow contributors to check out and follow! You can view Coffee Addicted Writer’s post here.

This Week’s Question

When you run out of bookshelf space, what do you do? (submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver’s Reviews)


A man dances aroundseveral book stacks.

No more space for books? Boxes to the rescue! I use several to create stacks until I figure out organization. I also put them in the guest room. I find ways to work it out!


What are your tips and tricks for conserving book space? Feel free to share in the comments!


Love and Light Cathleen written in pink script, set in a light pink background

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Goodreads Monday: June 29

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme started by Lauren’s Page Turners. You select a book listed on your Goodreads TBR and talk about it. Whether it’s a book photo or description (or both!), share why you love them! You can find Lauren’s Page Turners’ link here.


This Week’s Post

'More to the Story' is on my Goodreads TBR. 
Four girls lay on a tri-colored blanket. One of the girls is holding a smart phone. Another girl is holding a book. 'More to the Story' is written in script font, at the top of the image.

More to the Story by Hena Khan

More to the Story is a Middle Grade retelling of Little Women. I’m going to love this story as much as the original classic!

Synopsis

From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes a new story inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic, Little Women, featuring four sisters from a modern American Muslim family living in Georgia.

When Jameela Mirza is picked to be feature editor of her middle school newspaper, she’s one step closer to being an award-winning journalist like her late grandfather. The problem is her editor-in-chief keeps shooting down her article ideas. Jameela’s assigned to write about the new boy in school, who has a cool British accent but doesn’t share much, and wonders how she’ll make his story gripping enough to enter into a national media contest.

Jameela, along with her three sisters, is devastated when their father needs to take a job overseas, away from their cozy Georgia home for six months. Missing him makes Jameela determined to write an epic article—one to make her dad extra proud. But when her younger sister gets seriously ill, Jameela’s world turns upside down. And as her hunger for fame looks like it might cost her a blossoming friendship, Jameela questions what matters most, and whether she’s cut out to be a journalist at all…


Would you put More to the Story on your TBR? Feel free to share in the comments!


'Love and Light, Cathleen' written in pink script, set on a light pink background.

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Goodreads Monday: June 22

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme started by Lauren’s Page Turners, in which you choose a book listed on your Goodreads TBR and talk about it.

This Week’s Post

When Life Gives You Mangoes by Kereen Getten
Release Date: September 15, 2020

I’m so glad that I received When Life Gives You Mangoes through NetGalley! This is a story about friendship, community and rebuilding life after a natural disaster hits. I can’t wait to read it!

Synopsis

For fans of deeply poignant middle grade about friendship and loss like The Thing About Jellyfish, comes the story about a young girl who can’t remember anything from her previous summer after a hurricane.

Twelve-year-old Clara lives on an island that visitors call exotic. But there’s nothing exotic about it to Clara. She loves eating ripe mangos off the ground, running outside in the rain with her Papa during rainy season, and going to her secret hideout with Gaynah–even though lately she’s not acting like a best friend.

The only thing out of the ordinary for Clara is that something happened to her memory that made her forget everything that happened last summer after a hurricane hit. Sometimes things come back to her in drips like a tap that hasn’t been turned off properly. Other times her Mama fills in the blanks…only she knows those aren’t her memories and it is hard feeling like she is not like everybody else.

But this summer is going to be different for Clara. Everyone is buzzing with excitement over a new girl in the village who is not like other visitors. She is about to make big waves on the island–and give Clara a summer she won’t forget.


What are your thoughts on When Life Gives You Mangoes? Do you think you’ll add this on your TBR?



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